The Five Most Important Components to a Healthy Relationship

All healthy relationships have certain things in common.
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Much has been written about the ingredients of a healthy relationship in everything from scientific journals to popular magazines. When you really study that advice, you can boil a healthy relationship down into five basic components: communication, mutual respect, trust, acceptance and shared values and goals. Whether it is a romance, a friendship or even a business relationship, it takes these five factors for the connection to really thrive.

1 Communication

Good communication is the foundation of any healthy relationship. People in healthy relationships talk frequently and openly, without fear of being criticized or judged. When they disagree, they do their best to arrive at a solution that is acceptable to both parties. This is not always easy and may sometimes lead to tense, even heated discussions, but the people in a healthy relationship are willing to continue communicating until the problem is resolved. And remember that communication is not always verbal: a person's behavior may communicate a message far more powerfully than anything he or she might say.

2 Mutual Respect

Respect for other people means you value the unique qualities that make them who they are. It also means you take their wishes seriously. When both people respect each other, it helps maintain equality in the relationship and promotes thoughtfulness and consideration between the partners. Always remember that relationships based on respect never include name-calling, shaming or abuse, says Colleen Ekback, a registered psychotherapist, on her Life Track Counseling website.

3 Trust

With respect usually comes trust, the feeling that you can count on the other person and that the person will never deliberately try to harm you. Trust, in turn, develops through honesty, transparency and consistency. People in healthy relationships keep their word and always know where they stand with one another.

4 Acceptance

With trust and respect comes acceptance of the other person's foibles. Members of healthy relationships realize that no one is perfect. They appreciate their partners enough to accept them warts and all, knowing that their good qualities outweigh any shortcomings. This acceptance does not, of course, extend to abuse in any form, or destructive habits such as drug addiction. A healthy relationship is impossible as long as those behaviors persist.

5 Shared Interests and Values

A good relationship is difficult to maintain if the participants do not share some basic interests, goals, values and core beliefs, as Dr. Stephanie Sarkis, a licensed mental health counselor writing for Psychology Today, points out. This does not mean you become clones of one another -- in fact, it's important to maintain your own individual identity no matter how close you feel to the other person. Still, part of the joy of a good relationship is sharing some of your passions with another person. You might both like to play at the arcade, or are involved in sports together or perhaps your families attend the same church. Sharing interests and values with each other can bring a couple together and strengthen their emotional bond. People in healthy relationships enjoy each other's company.

Norra MacReady has more than 30 years' experience as a health and medical writer and editor. She has been published in medical journals, such as "The Lancet," as well as consumer publications such as "Self," "Glamour," "Neurology Now" and "Heart Insight." MacReady has a Master's in human nutrition from Columbia University and also obtained a Master's in clinical psychology. She is pursuing licensure as a marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles.